RicelandMeadows


Winter Hay Feeder

hayfeed

December 5, 2017

We have been trialing the newly built hay feeder. The cows like it well. We had to turn one gate around on the feedlot for animal movement, but the feeder is working out very well. The cattle stick their heads through to eat. They eat at different times, but even when most of the herd east together, even the most timid animal can get a spot at the table.

They do eat some from the ends where the green gates are located, but mostly just clean up what ever has spilled out. There has been very little waste feeding the cattle this way. I can click the “success” button on this project! The feeder is easy to fill using the skid steer. The animals use it very well. The percentage of wasted hay is minimal. Lastly, I only have to move hay once a week or less, so it is a great time saver too!

This feeder is permanent, but building one on skids would be a great option for many small farmers. You provide some protection for the hay, as well as, the animals. This could even provide shade from the hot summer sun, while feeding hay when pastures are declining. I recommend trying one on your small holdings in some form or another. The benefits far out weigh the costs.



Horses and Hay
July 20, 2016, 11:09 pm
Filed under: July 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

me&kh

July 20, 2016

As our harvest here on the farm continues, the horses and I raked some second cutting clover this morning. We waited until the morning dew had been burnt off by the sun. It was still pretty early and even a bit cool at about 60 when the job started. The cool morning made for a great time. We finished before the biting flies woke up and found us.

My grandson from Montana snapped this photo as we walked out to get the hay rake. He rode along while we worked. I am sure it will be a memory that he will take back home with him. The hot sun and dry ground pulled the moisture out of the curing hay pretty fast. We were able to bale it all before supper and mow it away after we ate.

2ndclover

This high protein feed will be fed to calves this coming late winter. It will be a great asset to have when the sucking calves start to pull the weight off of their mothers. I can make a feeder where only the small calves can eat. I can supplement their feed and keep a watchful eye on them too.

The speltz straw is drying and will be baled soon too. The horses will rake and “ted” the straw as we fluff it to dry. It will be next week’s work. Who knows? Perhaps even Miss Abby will get a chance to pull the hay rake as her training continues. It will just depend upon the weather and time…..both of which I have very little control over…but no matter, as long as I have hay and horses… I’ll be fine 🙂



2015 Speltz Crop Has Been Planted
September 24, 2015, 10:46 pm
Filed under: September 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
One of Two fields

One of Two fields

September 24, 2015

After three marathon days of farm work, my speltz crop is in the ground. I worked until after dark the last three days, but it was worth it. These fields represent next year’s horse grain. It will last me for an entire year providing we get a decent crop. I have done my job, so now I patiently wait 😮

I plowed these fields last week. This week I spent lots of time harrowing them smooth. A hay crop is planted with the speltz. The speltz will nurse the growing hay. Once the grain has been harvested and the straw all baled, the hay will flourish. Harvesting hay a year later from these fields will be very nice on the smooth ground. Keep in mind, two winters will cover the hayfields with snow, helping to flatten everything out too.

I can now wash, lubricate and store my grain drill and the tillage tools. Only my horse plow will be kept near the front of the shed. The horses and I will be doing some fall plowing in a few weeks, but for now I will busy myself with putting things away for …winter (gulp)

It is looking like a maternity ward around here too. Sows and cows are heavy with young. Very soon farm babies will be born. It is always an exciting time. The best part of farming for me is seeing the new babies. I simply never get tired of looking at them. They are so dang cute. They don’t become a pain in the backside for a few months, so watching them and laughing while they are babies makes it all worth it!



Up Up and Away!
July 17, 2015, 9:14 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Jake loads the elevator

Jake loads the elevator

July 17, 2015

Yay!!!  Finally after missing half a summer, we got some dry hay made. We have more down and almost ready. Rain threatens, but no worries here, if it gets wet I will roll it up in plastic for silage! It is awesome to have a back up plan. Yesterday was not with out its problems, but we overcame each and every one. I do have a shear pin to replace on the baler, but that is an easy job.

The combine wouldn’t start as we prepared for the speltz harvest. We found many little things, but apparently the mice building a big straw nest in the muffler, was my biggest problem! It’s all good now.

Today I will wrestle with the last of our first cutting hay. I will adapt with the weather and try looking forward instead of skyward…. Tomorrow I will know just how today went, no point in worrying about it today!



Hay man! Where’s the sun?
July 2, 2015, 9:37 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Ripe and ready

Ripe and ready

July, 2 2015

The rains keep falling, the grass keeps growing. The clovers and hay grasses continue to ripen. It will be all fine, but I’d sure like to be making dry hay soon. We are making “wet” bales so all is not lost. This will make some very nice winter time feed. The succulent plants, harvested at their peak, provides high protein feed that smells wonderful. Opening a bale when the snow is deep, as the winter wind whips your face, is almost fun. The sweet smelling hay crop reminds me the days of summer. The worries of making a hay crop…gone! So, the lesson is…be patient. It will all work out.

The pastures are growing great. All this rain keeps the grass in top shape. We are mowing the lawn almost every three days. There is no sign of the dry July grass and lawn burnout. I’m sure it will come, but not this week 😮 Soon, the sun will shine and lots of work will need done all at once. Farmers like myself will be scrambling waiting for a rainy day and the rest that comes with it. Until then, I keep clicking things off my list, some projects not scheduled until fall, but they are complete none the less.

I see a few jobs that will slide of my list until the late cool days of fall. Grass and weeds are taking over the edges of the farm. I generally keep these areas mowed, but to date, they have been wet and saturated. I will get them sooner or later, but this year it will be later! The speltz are ripening quickly. Soon the “amber waves of grain”, will be calling me to harvest. This is a mid-summer job and much to my surprise … It is mid-summer!



Throwing Stones
June 22, 2015, 9:01 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Limestone added to get rid of the mud

Limestone added to get rid of the mud

June 22, 2015

Upon removing the old shelves that have held our storage tanks for the last four years, that whole area was soft and muddy. I threw limestone there to make for a much better walkway. Part of our floor is pea gravel that had been added when we built the sugarhouse. It has worked well, but is disappearing into the ground. This new layer of limestone, gives everything a fresh look. It also holds up a portly farmer with small feet 😮

Today was hot and muggy, but a good breeze blew for most of the day. I baled some “wet” bales for a neighbor. These “wet” bales will be wrapped in plastic and turned into silage. A sweet smelling, high protein feed for cattle and sheep, silage is a great crop, especially now when the hay drying days of summer are fleeting. This grass gets mowed one day and left to wilt down. The next day it is raked, baled and wrapped in plastic. Sealed up without the presence of oxygen, the bale ferments.

This process is old, but the balers and wrappers are fairly new. I am helping a neighbor in exchange for using this high priced equipment. I, however, have an idea. I read about silage being made in very poor countries by filling plastic bags with wet grass. The bags are sealed with a knot then tape. They are stored under the beds in mud huts until needed to feed the family cow or water buffalo. This low input method of making silage is right on my radar screen… more to follow 😮

I am sure that when I am out in my barnyard stuffing bales into large plastic bags, a farm neighbor will drive by and snicker at my attempts to make silage. I am sure it will work…so I will laugh all winter long while feeding this awesome forage to my livestock. My friendly “snickerers” should remember folks in glass houses should not throw stones!



Hay, It’s a Buffet
February 24, 2015, 9:48 pm
Filed under: February 2015 | Tags: , , ,
It just tastes better

It just tastes better

February 24, 2015

Every day I bring the cows up to the feedlot to look them over and make sure that all is well. I have created extra work for myself. The cows now stand at the gate, demanding that I come get them. I give them a small splash of grain and a bale of the same hay that they have out back at the cow stable. They eat the grain, then devour the hay.

They make a big deal of pushing and shoving acting like it is the best hay they ever ate. I think it is just because I bring it to them. It’s like a cup of tea. One made and drank tastes good, but one made for you and brought to you while you sit on your butt in your favorite chair….Now, that tastes awesome!  I sometimes think I could stand and bawl for that too, for you see…. It is a moo..ving experience!